Liftstream is an executive search recruitment company in the life sciences sector
Author: Karl Simpson, CEO, Liftstream – Feb 12th 2018
The UK has been seriously tackling the issue of diversity in the senior ranks of British business. The Davies Review, led by the charismatic but challenging Lord Mervyn Davies, pushed UK boards to get 25% of women on the boards of FTSE 100 companies. This triggered concerted action on the part of the nominated companies because they would be publicly measured, and reported.
Frequency Therapeutics, based in Cambridge, MA, is a company spearheading the movement to restore hearing by harnessing the regenerative potential of progenitor cells in the body, today announced its Board of Directors. Led by Marc A. Cohen of COBRO Ventures as Chairman, members of the Frequency Board were selected for their industry leadership and wealth of management skills to provide a diverse governance team for the company. The Board Members include Tim Barberich, founder and former CEO and Chairman of Sepracor, Inc. (now known as Sunovion), Marc Kozin, Senior Advisor and former President of L.E.K. Consulting, Robert S. Langer, Sc.D., Frequency Co-founder and the David H. Koch Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and David Lucchino, Frequency Co-founder, President and Chief Executive Officer.
Frequency Therapeutics was founded to translate the breakthrough work in Progenitor Cell Activation (PCA) by its scientific founders, Robert Langer, Sc.D., and Jeff Karp, Ph.D., at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Medical School, into new treatments, where controlled tissue regeneration with locally delivered drugs could have profound therapeutic potential. The company has licensed foundational patents from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Partners Healthcare. These technologies will be used to advance Frequency’s PCA platform to create disease modifying therapies that activate the body’s dormant abilities to heal, with the lead program focused on small molecules that can reverse chronic noise induced hearing loss.
“Frequency is poised to become a leader in the treatment of chronic hearing loss, a potential $20 billion market with no existing effective therapeutic solutions,” said Marc A. Cohen. “The technologies licensed from MIT and Partners provide a broad platform for Frequency to uncover and activate the regenerative potential of progenitor cells for unprecedented healing benefits in the treatment of hearing loss, eye and skin disorders, gastrointestinal diseases and diabetes.”
“This stellar Board of Directors brings to Frequency a wealth of business acumen and expertise in the biotech and pharmaceutical communities,” said David Lucchino. “We look forward to working with our Board and advisors to grow Frequency into a world-renowned regenerative medicine company.”
Shire plc has joined Agios Pharmaceuticals in announcing the appointment of Ian Clark to the Board of Directors.
Biotech clusters are big business. They attract investment, spur innovation and create economic prosperity for the local economy, let alone the bragging rights that come from market superiority. In the United States, Boston in Massachusetts and the Bay Area in California, duke it out annually for the accolade of top life science cluster. Unquestionably though, what is happening in Boston right now is nothing short of remarkable and the gravitational pull of this bioscience ecosystem is attracting companies from across the globe.
When we look at these clusters, we look for the winning formula – the template that will translate ambition into reality, in the way Boston has managed to. How can we emulate that success? Well, the truth is, the success of a bioscience cluster is driven my multiple factors, the more prominent of which are; scientific research, access to capital, investment environment, infrastructure and resources, and human capital.
So while Boston reigns superior and San Francisco tries to regain top spot, we wondered about the other pretenders to the crown. In particular, that of San Diego, a highly ranked cluster (often 3rd) which offers something different from these current ‘super-clusters’.
For this reason, we took a deeper dive into the San Diego biotech cluster and we did so from the knowledge base that we possess, which is human capital and executive leadership. We wanted to look at what public biotechnology companies (44 in total) looked like in terms of their CEO leadership and the board of directors which govern them.
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Cambridge, Mass, has named Michael Bonney as Chairman to replace John Clarke who stepped down after 13 years of service. Clarke will remain on the board as a director of the company. Bonny is the current board member and former CEO of Cubist Pharmaceuticals.
Moderna Therapeutics, a pioneer in the development of messenger RNA (mRNA) Therapeutics™ based in Cambridge, Mass, has appointed Elizabeth (Betsy) Nabel to its Board of Directors. Nable is the President of Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Health Care (BWHC) and a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Last month, Atlas Ventures investor and blogger Bruce Booth, penned a tremendous analysis of gender inequality in the biotech sector. I recommend you read it here. He made the case for a far greater level of women participation at the C-suite and Board level of biotechnology companies, and openly discussed the perceived shortcomings that Atlas Ventures has in this area of leadership appointments among its portfolio firms.
The incredible challenge faced by corporations today in protecting data from cyber-attacks is ever evolving. The frequency and sophistication of cyber-attacks are testing CEOs, executive teams and perhaps more acutely, the Board. The Board of Directors is clearly responsible for risk oversight, and ‘Cyber-Risk’ is another form of corporate risk that they have to address. As part of their risk management responsibilities, the board should be defining and understanding the level of risk their company is exposed to and ensuring they are taking the appropriate measures to manage the risk through the correct processes and structures.